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  • Writer's pictureMatt Conway

Somebody I Used to Know: Review


Somebody I Used to Know Synopsis: On a trip to her hometown, workaholic TV producer Ally (Allison Brie) reminisces with her ex Sean (Jay Ellis), and starts questioning everything about her life. Things only become more confusing when she learns Sean is getting married to Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons).


Amidst a work crisis, Ally returns home and rekindles romantic sparks with her ex, Sean - only to learn that Sean is quickly approaching his wedding day in the coming-of-age dramedy Somebody I Used to Know.


Characters traversing through the nostalgic warmth of memory lane is familiar stomping grounds in Hollywood. Several stalwart coming-of-age features, such as Garden State and Adventureland, intelligently utilized this approach to reflect on the complications shadowing people stuck in a state of arrested development.


In the hand of writer/director Dave Franco and co-writer/star Allison Brie, Somebody I Used to Know imprints a humanistic eye on a tried and true narrative concept. The artistic team (and real-life couple) craft a refreshingly grounded twist on romantic comedy conventions.


It would have been easy for Somebody to congeal into the mold of a standard-issue feature. A love triangle between two old flames and a new bride, the constant jockeying of fluttering emotions, and numerous emotional revelations are cornerstones of several contrived rom-coms. Instead, Franco and Brie create the true anthesis of the genre's comforting trends - and their movie is made all the better for it.


As Ally devises schemes to restore her former romance, she faces an uncomfortable reality. For as much as she wants to relive her past, she discovers that her treasured memories are ephemeral moments in time that can not be replicated. I appreciate the uncomfortable honesty Franco and Brie bring to the table - their choices help define a sincere character study that avoids typical Hollywodized schmaltz.


Additionally, Franco elevates the material through his assured technical command. With his second feature, Franco avoids superficial lighting and overly composed aesthetics in favor of a grounded, naturalistic presentation. This choice, while far from groundbreaking, makes for a great compliment to the material's sensibilities.


Somebody I Used to Know still boasts some easy-going rom-com appeals. Franco and Brie display a sharp comedic edge in their screenplay, offering a few humorous bits and a ringing inditement on artificial Hollywood practices (a subplot about Ally's role as an executive producer of insipid reality shows serves as an effective B-plot). Both are also wise to trust the talents of their dynamic cast. Brie defines authentic textures in her charismatic and emotionally captivating performance as Ally; Jay Ellis boasts an easy-going magnetism as Ally's lost love, while Danny Pudi, Kiersey Clemmons and Hayley Joel Osment consistently elevate their supporting roles.


Strengths aside, the film is hampered by its run-of-the-mill foundation. I am glad Franco and Brie elevate their material's core - their choices help tremendously in defining an expressive voice for the film - but a sense of conceptual fatigue remains buried beneath the cracks. Audiences can practically set their watch for when each emotional twist and turn will occur, with the predictability robbing Somebody of its dramatic potential.


Somebody I Used to Know may never reinvent the wheel, but its well-tuned creative team still crafts a worthwhile endeavor.


Somebody I Used to Know is now playing on Amazon Prime.

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